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Publisher's Summary

Joe Wilmot can't stand his wife, Elizabeth. But he sure loves her movie theater. It's a modest establishment in a beat-down town - but Joe has the run of the place, and inside its walls, he's king. Without the theater, he'd be sunk. Without his leadership, the theater would close in a heartbeat. If it isn't the life Joe imagined for himself, at the very least, it's livable.
Everything changes when Joe falls for the housemaid, Carol, and the two can't keep it a secret from Elizabeth. Elizabeth won't leave Joe the theater unless he provides for her... but he's put all his money into the show house. Carol's and Joe's only hope is the life insurance policies they've taken out on each other. If one of them were to be presumed dead, they'd have more than enough money to solve all their problems....
No one knows murder better than Jim Thompson, and in this incisive foray into the dark dealings of the mid-20th century movie industry, he doesn't disappoint. This is the riveting story of a love triangle gone horribly wrong - and just how far one man will go to hold on to a desperate dream.
©1949 Jim Thompson, renewed 1985 (P)2011 Hachette Audio
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Critic Reviews

"Suspense in high gear." (The New York Times)
"Strong meat." (The Boston Globe)
"Reminiscent of James Cain's The Postman Always Rings Twice, both in style and story." (San Francisco Bulletin)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Darryl on 09-19-12

Good one by Thompson

I see someone couldn't finish this and I don't know why. I think it's very good, not long and kept my interest. Small town hijinx again like JT usually does well. I think there are too many MTv influenced people out there anymore who need wall to wall action and don't have time for story or character development. Noir isn't always about shooting, it's best when it's about the existential plight of people stuck somewhere and making bad expedient choices to get ahead.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

1 out of 5 stars
By Richard Delman on 06-25-12

I couldn't finish this.

I thought that this book might be written by the contemporary Jim Thompson, a great writer who lives in Michigan and writes a lot of tough-guy outdoorsy stuff. I was mistaken. The book is really awful. The writing is turgid, stiff and full of cliches. I'd never heard of the narrator, and I suppose he does a decent job given the material he has, but as they say about putting lipstick on a pig...The story is about a couple who have a violent relationship. They own a movie theatre, way back when a dollar bought a lot. They get pressured by distributors, can only show certain movies on certain dates, have to borrow chairs from a nearby church, and so forth. I just found nothing redeeming about the work. There is absolutely no humor of any kind to leaven the misery. You just cannot care about these people. I kept listening for a while, curious if there was anything coming that would catch my interest and make the book worth the one credit. To be brief, it isn't.

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3 of 6 people found this review helpful

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